New Cancer Cases on the decrease in Mauritius
Dr Hon. K. K. S. Jagutpal pointed out that “early detection of cancer greatly increases the chances for successful treatment and reduces the risks of premature death”.
“Cancer does not discriminate and can affect everyone regardless of social status, race, gender, and religion,” said the Minister of Health and Wellness, who urged all citizens to avail of the facilities provided by the Ministry for cancer screening. It was highlighted that many types of cancers common in Mauritius, including cancers of the cervix, breast and colon, can be cured when detected at an early stage.
Dr Laurent Musango, World Health Organisation Representative in Mauritius, during his address, pointed out, “Cancer is a terrible scourge that results in immense tragedy, compounding physical problems and emotional distress for patients, their families, friends, acquaintances and colleagues”. He emphasized the importance of avoiding risk factors and lifestyles linked with cancers.
“Eating a healthy diet, being physically active, keeping a healthy weight, as well as quitting smoking and alcohol remain the main recommendations to help reduce risk of some cancers”, said Dr Musango
The WHO Representative in Mauritius recalled that globally, one in five people are diagnosed with cancer before the age of 75, and the incidence continues to rise as life expectancy increases and patterns of disease change. He said that the cancer burden in the African Region is projected to increase from over one million new cases in 2018 to over two million cases by 2040.
Dr Musango emphasized that WHO is working with governments and partners to improve the availability of medicines and technologies, and to build capacities among health workers and communities to prevent cancer and care for patients. He congratulated the Government of Mauritius for its efforts in strengthening the National Cancer Prevention and Control Programme as part of efforts in achieving universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals target 3.4 on reducing premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases.
“We need to accelerate action to prevent cancer and ensure people have access to early screening and people-centred care’, said Dr Musango who call on the Government of Mauritius to continue improving cancer services, building capacities, and strengthening surveillance systems to better understand cancer burdens and trends. An appeal was also made to all individuals and communities to support overcoming of the stigma that surrounds cancer. Family members and friends were encouraged to seek early screening, treatment and care.
Various activities were offered by the Ministry of Health and Wellness namely breast and cervical cancer screenings, yoga demonstration, exhibition on healthy life style and healthy diet and medical check-ups to mark the World Cancer Day 2020 in Mauritius. In addition, sensitization campaigns on the theme “ I Am and I Will” are being broadcast on the national television while awareness sessions are held in the community at the level of Health Centres, Women Centres, Social Welfare Centres and schools. A pamphlet on ‘Mieux Comprendre Le Cancer’ was also distributed to the population.
There has been a strengthening of the National Cancer Prevention and Control Programme in Mauritius which includes free cancer screening, vaccination programmes, in particular the HPV vaccine for young girls to prevent cervical cancer and intensive ongoing awareness campaigns across the Republic of Mauritius to educate the population.
Mauritius is among few African countries that has the basic infrastructure and facilities for therapy of cancer such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. A new state-of-the-art specialised cancer care hospital equipped with upgraded modern equipment and evidenced-based specialized medical service will soon be operationalised in Vacoas to provide appropriate treatment to all cancer patients.